Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



With the return of high school athletics, we're reminded of what we've all been through.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Wade Evanson, Forest Grove News-Times - Sports  It's over.

Not the virus, of course, but the hiatus through which our kids have suffered regarding the games they've — in many cases — spent the bulk of their lives playing.

It was March 11, 2020, last I covered a game. The Liberty girls basketball team had just defeated Mountainside in the state quarterfinals and were brimming with confidence a day prior to a semifinal showdown with top-ranked Beaverton — a game I feel like they'd have won.

But little did I know as I sat courtside typing on my laptop, sitting 10 feet from an unnamed colleague who was aggressively coughing in between bites from a slice of pizza he had resting on a dusty table, that we were just hours from the NBA's Rudy Gobert testing positive for COVID-19 and beginning what would be a year-long ripple effect the likes we'd never seen.

I survived the careless cough — and to my knowledge, my fellow scribe did as well, along with the pizza — but oh, how things have changed.

Masks and social distancing, "stay at home," "shelter in place," open, closed, "freezes," "pauses," distance learning, limited in-person instruction — all words or terms that sadly became a part of our lexicon over the past 12 months. But while none of us are likely to ever forget this past year, amongst the damage that cannot be undone are the memories that are missing from it, especially for young people.

State and league championships weren't won or lost on the field of play, but went uncontested on the basketball court, baseball and softball diamonds, track, golf course and tennis court, lacrosse field and more.

There were no home run trots, no game-winning goals, no school- or state-best times, no post-game celebrations, and no senior days for the kids who, in many cases, would have been playing competitively for the last time.

All were gone, and all in what felt like a nanosecond.

I'm old to some, to others likely not so much. It's all relative, right?

I lived through, or was at least cognizant of, President Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt, the Gulf War, 9/11, the subsequent war in the Middle East, and natural disasters like the Mount St. Helens eruption, a handful of catastrophic hurricanes, and a couple prominent earthquakes. So, I've seen a thing or two.

But while all felt and were significant in the moment, none had the staying power or directly affected more people than our not-so-good friend COVID-19.

People lost lives, businesses and jobs. Our way of being has, in many ways, been redefined by a way of life none of us ever saw coming, and in the middle of it all were the kids.

No school. For months, no friends. No activities. And until now, no sports. But like some of the restaurants, some more of the jobs, and soon school, the sports that mean so much to so many are, in fact, back — and that's a good thing.

Sports are not just great exercise, but they also famously teach leadership, teamwork and discipline — to name a few good traits. But even more than that amid such challenging times, they now provide hope for the "old normal" we've reluctantly exchanged for the "new."

And that's important.

While we've done and continue to do what's necessary to combat the virus, we need equal persistence to once again fight for what was. We went to school for a reason. Ate out, shopped, went to movies, hugged and shook hands not as a rule, but as a handful of examples of who we are.

So, as we continue to move towards the light and away from the darkness of the past year, let's remember fondly what we had and settle not for something less. Sports are a great first step, but let's be sure they're just the first of many more in the direction of a more grateful, selfless, tolerant and, yes, recognizable time.

I think we've earned it.

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